Celebrating East African Writing!

Sing the African Sonnet – Storymoja Hay Poetry Competition

The Storymoja Hay Festival invites you to submit poems for a competition.

The word “sonnet” means little song and we encourage you to re-imagine the sonnet through African sounds and images. We welcome bold, innovative poems that are rooted in local contexts, attentive to the nuances and textures of everyday life.

Poems should have a maximum of 20 lines.

Shortlisted poets will be invited to a special poetry workshop during the Storymoja Hay Festival.

Submit a maximum of two poems to The subject line of the email should be “Hay Poetry Submission.”

Submit poems as attachments using either Microsoft Word (doc or docx) or Rich Text File (rtf) formats. On a separate cover page, please include your contact information, including your name, email address, and phone contact. Do not put any of this information on the pages containing poetry.

The competition closes at midnight on August 31, 2013.

We will not be able to respond to individual queries.


One comment on “Sing the African Sonnet – Storymoja Hay Poetry Competition

  1. Storymoja Africa
    August 26, 2013

    Message from Contest Administrators

    Please read competition guidelines. No poem should be longer than 20 lines.

    This competition asks that you focus on two key elements: sound and form
    Sound: The best songs have something distinctive, something unique. One hears the first few notes or beats and recognizes the song. One responds to the song. What is the unique or distinctive sound of your poem? It’s not enough to have content that suggests sound—a vehicle, a musical instrument, a dance. Instead, we’re looking for sound that is inventive, that spills out, that works through the line, the line break, internal patterns within lines, unusual patterns across lines.
    Don’t try to recreate Shakespeare. Inhabit your own soundscape.
    Form: the English and Italian sonnets have a form to them—14 lines, 10 syllables per line, strict rhyme schemes. The challenge is not to repeat this form, but to think through form in an inventive way. Form is not “rhyme.” In fact, stay away from rhyme altogether.
    Form is giving shape to sound and feeling and thinking, understanding the difference among

    the boys in the field
    are dancing

    the boys
    in the field
    are dancing

    the boys
    the field

    Each of these has a different sound, a different feel: not only is each one visually distinct, but that visual distinction shapes the possibilities for interpretation.
    Finally, as with all poetry competitions: surprise us. Attempt something you didn’t know you were capable of doing. Don’t settle for safe or pretty or nice. Don’t write about “issues” or “themes.” As much as possible, do not invert your syntax–contemporary poetry does not do this.

    Surprise yourself.


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This entry was posted on August 5, 2013 by in Writer's Blog.
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